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In Response: Mining forever the heart, soul of Northeastern Minnesota

From the column: "It was not Stauber but the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service which caused mining supporters to look like fools during a sham public-comment period to determine whether to implement a 20-year ban on mining."

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2017 News Tribune file photo / In July 2017, hundreds of pro-mining supporters march to a public hearing at Virginia High School after a rally at Field of Dreams Park in Virginia organized by people supporting copper-nickel mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
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We write in response to the March 17 “Local View” column in the News Tribune, “Support for mine betrays heart, soul of Northeastern Minnesota,” which was written by Becky Rom of Ely, the national chair of the nonprofit Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters.

Rom attacked 8th Congressional District Congressman Pete Stauber, writing, “Stauber wrongly claimed the (Biden) administration’s policies ‘have been very harsh on the middle class and the blue-collar worker in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District.’ … (This) demonstrated that Stauber is out of touch with the needs of his district. … It is Stauber who has failed the middle-class families he claims to care about.”

Is it Congressman Stauber or the Biden administration who is out of touch with the needs of the 8th Congressional District?

It wasn’t Stauber who terminated the Keystone XL pipeline project but President Joe Biden, who did so the day after his inauguration by issuing a politically motivated executive order revoking a key permit needed to complete the pipeline in the U.S.

It has been under Biden that the prices of gasoline, diesel fuel, and heating oil all have surged upward. The price of fuel oil delivered in Ely today is $4.82 per gallon, about double what it was just 12 months ago.

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Rom also wrote, “What does Stauber vote for? Tax cuts for the very wealthy. Who does Stauber support instead of middle-class families? One is a billionaire family living in Santiago, Chile, which wants to build the Antofagasta/Twin Metals mine on public land upstream from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.”

This statement conveniently ignored that Antofagasta has invested $550 million in developing its proposed copper-nickel mine in the Rainy River Watershed of the Superior National Forest. The hardrock mining operation promises to employ 750 middle-class, well-paid workers and an additional 1,500 workers in related industries. More significantly, a project labor agreement with the building trades unions has already been signed for the construction of the Twin Metals mine.

Furthermore, it was the Biden administration, not Congressman Stauber, which required the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service to ban mining on 234,000 acres of federal lands in the Rainy River Watershed. And it was not Stauber but the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service which caused mining supporters to look like fools during a sham public-comment period to determine whether to implement a 20-year ban on mining on those same federal lands. They then announced on Jan. 26, just eight days after the 90-day public comment period, that Twin Metals’ leases were canceled.

Rom further stated, “Stauber’s support for Antofagasta’s Twin Metals mine proposal betrays the heart and soul of Northeastern Minnesota, in particular the Boundary Waters and the people who drive the sustainable communities of the Boundary Waters region.”

No, mining always has been, is now, and always will be the heart and soul of Northeastern Minnesota.

Gerald M. Tyler is chairman and CEO of the Ely Area Development Association and of Up North Jobs (upnorthjobs.org), an Ely-based nonprofit that promotes economic development and job growth in Northeastern Minnesota. David Johnson is a fourth-generation Elyite who worked as a miner for Reserve Mining and Inland Steel for 32 years and is now a board member for Up North Jobs.

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David Johnson
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Gerald Tyler

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